the school of minimum wage.

Posted: January 22, 2015 in brain belches
Tags: , , , ,

When I was 16 years old I entered the wonderful world of minimum wage.
My first job was at a grocery store called “Super-H” that was about 4 miles from my house. I was never sure what the “H” stood for, it depended on who you asked. My official job description was “sacker” (which sounds a little more dignified than “bag-boy”). It wasn’t a tough job, I put groceries into sacks and carried the sacks to cars. It wasn’t complicated. I was a hormone crazed, microwave burrito fueled goof ball ready to take the world by storm. This was back in the dark ages when your bagging choices were limited to “do you want paper or…well, paper?” I have to confess, during my sacker days I killed a lot of innocent produce. I also broke my share of not so innocent eggs. It was dangerous work.
I wore a faded blue apron, a spiffy name tag and a garage sale necktie. I managed to make enough money to pay for my first car (a ’74 ford pinto, yep, it was a car named after a bean). But, despite the tens of dollars that I made bagging other people’s food, I took away other things that were immeasurably valuable.

I learned many valuable life lessons from my first run in with organized work.
I learned to show up 15 minutes early.
I learned that shortcuts rarely pay off. Don’t trade RIGHT for EASY.
I learned that if you at least look busy, you get yelled at less.
I learned not to get distracted. My friend was slicing a ham once and got distracted by a pretty girl (what else) and ended up slicing off a chunk of his finger tip. The positive thing was that it blended right in with the ham.
I learned valuable skills like mopping and how to properly use a time clock. Both of these took me years to master.
I learned that, even when you THINK you have found a good spot to hide out, somebody is probably watching you.
I learned that there is always that ONE person who is ALWAYS in the break room.
I learned that sometimes people are mean. They treat you like dirt. That doesn’t make you dirt.
I learned that joy is a powerful weapon.
I learned that joy makes some people nervous.
I learned the value of a buck or 3, I made $3.35 an hour the entire 4 years that I worked there.
I learned that sometimes there is no chance of advancement. That shouldn’t keep you from advancing. Be better.
I learned the difference between BE and DO. I had to DO a lot of stuff that I didn’t like, that didn’t change who I was. You DO what you have to do while you find ways to BE who you are.
I learned that everybody has a story and most of those stories are pretty interesting.
I learned that sometimes you will have to deal with a lot of crap. Once, we were out of toilet paper in the very public restroom, so an older guy wrote a hostile message on the wall…with his own…um…crap. Guess who got to clean it up? Yup, it was me. Sometimes you have to do that!
I learned how to tie a necktie, which is a skill that I still use, every Christmas Eve.
I learned that I really hate neckties.
I learned that I’m also not a fan of name tags.
I learned that you don’t want to put canned green beans on top of bread.
I learned the value of just showing up. You earn a reputation by showing up as a person who shows up instead of shrugs off.
I learned that if you drop a jar of spaghetti sauce just right, it will break and go all over your customer’s white pants.
I learned that attitude is more important than ability.
I learned that some thieves aren’t very smart. I watched an older lady hike up her muumuu dress and put a gallon of ice cream down her panty hose. We stopped her and she denied it until it started to melt.
I learned that your social circle is going to grow out of the people that you are around the most. Hang around with people who make you better.
I learned that sometimes the customer is wrong.
I learned that you might not always want to tell the customer that they are wrong.
I learned that some people will do anything to advance themselves, don’t be THAT guy. don’t throw other people under the shopping cart.
I learned that we all have a daily choice: am I going to be a jerk? Just …don’t…for the love of God…don’t be a jerk.
I learned who I was and who I wasn’t. I was more than a hormone crazed, microwave burrito fueled goof ball.
I learned that you can learn something from everything.
I learned that cruddy jobs don’t last forever, but the lessons we take away from cruddy jobs DO last forever.

  1. hadhopeamy says:

    I really really loved this post!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s